Identification of early abandonment in cropland through radar-based coherence data and application of a Random-Forest model

Wouter Meijninger, Berien Elbersen*, Michiel van Eupen, Stephan Mantel, Pilar Ciria, Andrea Parenti, Marina Sanz Gallego, Paloma Perez Ortiz, Marco Acciai, Andrea Monti

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


In the context of increased pressures on land for food and non-food production, it is relevant to understand better, which land resources have become unused and abandoned and where these lands are. Data on where these lands are and what their extend is are not collected in regular statistics. In this paper, we present an approach to detect signs of abandonment in cropping land using radar coherence data. The methodology was tested in the Spanish regions of Albacete and Soria where agricultural land abandonment is a common process. The results show that land abandonment detection using radar coherence data works well for the region of Albacete in arable lands. The radar-based analysis is a relatively simple method to detect land abandonment in an early to longer term state and can therefore be applied once developed and tested further in other regions to larger areas of the EU where land abandonment is serious and needs monitoring and policy response. The applicability of the method to Soria and Emilia Romagna (Italy) regions shows that there are still challenges to overcome to make the method more widely applicable for detecting land abandonment in other environmental zones of Europe. Lack of reliable training and validation data, like Land Parcel Identification Systems data, in regions is one of the challenges in this respect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)735-755
JournalGCB Bioenergy
Issue number7
Early online date16 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


  • abandoned lands
  • radar coherence
  • satellite remote sensing
  • unused lands


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